Sunday, 17 August 2008


The Ladies Marathon in full flight

The Olympic Games are beginning to take their toll on my frail frame. In the early hours of this morning I watched as the Romanian Constantina Tomescu-Dita strode home to victory in the Ladies Marathon at around 3.30a.m. our time. I sat transfixed as British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe was interviewed after the race about her punishing finish, last year she didn’t even complete the course , this time despite lack of preparation she stumbled tearfully home in 24th position. Paula is a well known figure around these parts , as she has done a lot of her training right here in Limerick under the watchful eye of physiotherapist Gerard Hartmann. Yesterday morning I saw the soccer match between Cameroon and Brazil go into extra time before Brazil scored a two goal victory! I even witnessed America’s Michael Phelps swim to a new Olympian record, gleaning a total of eight gold medals in the games and Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba decimating the 10,000m world record !
Now this schedule of sporting events is all very well for those athletes who have been preparing for the last four years but pity poor me…no warm-ups…no circuit training…no psychological coaching…just trust into the Beijing cauldron of franticness cold! And I think I may not be alone in my nocturnal and early morning vigils because with the rainfall our Irish summer has thrown up this year , a lot of people are either house or pub bound as the pitter-patter of precipitation provides the background score to this crazy mixed up season. This morning I turned my back on the allurements of Olympian human endeavour and wrapping up well, with brolly aloft ,walked to the local shop for the newspapers, making the trip in about 20 minutes…a new personal best for me incidentally!
Despite my stalwart commitment to viewing the unfolding dramas in China, Ireland seem to be nowhere near getting any kind of medal, our best hope in the boxing seems to be disappearing rapidly. Our rowers also are out of contention even with Pallaskenry’s own Sean O’Neill on board, so the bunting in that little County Limerick town is presumably now flying at half-mast. Ah well the Olympic spirit is all about the taking part and not the winning, at least that’s what they told us at school many years ago, and in that spirit none of the athletes can be faulted as the human physical energy expended is something to behold. Who knows, after limbering up today ,I might even be in a position to resume my place at the Bird Nest Stadium (via my reserved armchair seating) to cheer them on to the final hurrah!

Gerard O'Shea

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